It’s been 30 years since the Americans with Disabilities Act became law. Change happened quickly in some ways.
Beth Cox, C-TRAN’s Manager of Customer Service, worked as a Customer Service representative at the time. She frequently interacted with C-TRAN riders during the early days of the ADA.
“I remember a lot of excitement from it,” Cox says. “And a lot of people excited to go out and have some independence.”
The ADA, signed into law on July 26, 1990, is a sweeping civil rights law that “prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else in the mainstream of American life,” according to the law’s introduction.
Among other areas, the ADA has had a profound impact on public infrastructure and public transportation. For C-TRAN, it meant changing a lot of the ways we operated transit in Clark County.
By January 1991, C-TRAN began offering more accessible bus service with new lift-equipped buses. We established a new advisory committee with members of the public, one of the precursors to today’s C-TRAN Citizens Advisory Committee.
C-VAN, which operated before the ADA became law, expanded under the new guidelines. In 1999, C-TRAN brought its C-VAN paratransit service fully in-house to be operated only by C-TRAN staff. It has remained that way since.
One of the ADA’s requirements is that sidewalks and bus stops be accessible to anyone. All new infrastructure built since 1990 meets that requirement. C-TRAN has also updated hundreds of older bus stops to meet current ADA standards. But with nearly 1,000 total stops in our system, that was never going to happen overnight. C-TRAN continues to prioritize and update bus stops every year, Cox says, as do other transit agencies across the country. Making transit more accessible is an ongoing endeavor—as it should be.
Today, C-TRAN’s entire fleet is equipped with lifts for wheelchairs and mobility devices. C-VAN continues to be a lifeline for many riders with disabilities. And the ADA still guides many of the ways we operate as a public transportation provider. That includes public outreach, building and planning for future routes, for example, to ensure they are accessible to everyone.
“It affects everything we do,” Cox says. “Everything we touch.”
You’ve probably heard by now that the northbound span of the Interstate Bridge will close for more than a week this September during a needed repair project. The trunnion replacement project will close the span for nine days, September 12-20, and traffic impacts are expected to be severe. Think miles-long backups and up to 20 hours of congestion per day.
In other words, it could be ugly.
Regional partners including C-TRAN have been preparing for the closure for more than a year. Traffic impacts are inevitable, but we’ll be doing our part to make sure the project – and cross-river travel – go as smoothly as possible during the closure. Here’s how C-TRAN will help keep the region moving:
Bus on Shoulder: By late summer, C-TRAN buses will be authorized to use the shoulder of southbound Interstate 5 to bypass traffic in Clark County. The bus-only shoulder lane will extend about five miles from 99th Street down to the Interstate Bridge, using the inside (left) shoulder lane. The I-5 Bus on Shoulder lane will remain permanent even after the bridge project is complete. C-TRAN buses will also be authorized to use shoulder lanes on I-205 over the Glenn Jackson Bridge for approximately one year as a separate pilot project.
Extra service: C-TRAN will be putting additional buses on Express routes during the project to maintain schedules and make sure commuters have access to transit.
Free parking: If you’re taking transit during the closure, C-TRAN already offers several places where you can park for free and catch a bus to Portland. Multiple Express routes serve 99th Street Transit Center, Fisher’s Landing Transit Center and the Salmon Creek Park and Ride. C-TRAN’s Evergreen Park and Ride and the Andresen Park and Ride also offer free parking and transit access to Portland, though on more limited schedules.
Partnerships: C-TRAN has been working with other agencies around the region to make sure this is a coordinated effort on a project that will affect thousands of travelers. That includes the Oregon Department of Transportation, which is the lead agency on the project, plus the Washington State Department of Transportation, the City of Vancouver and others. Better communication among these agencies means we’re better prepared before the project starts.
Regional leaders are asking commuters to do their part, too. Find an alternative to driving across the bridge if you can. Work from home if that’s an option. Carpool or Vanpool with others. Be patient. (And be nice.)
Got questions? Find more information about the Interstate Bridge closure at www.interstatebridge.org. You can also follow C-TRAN on Twitter and Facebook for the latest info leading up to and during the project.